In reading Matthew 1:2-17, avoid losing yourself in the list of names and the begat/father, but rather notice what stands out as if it were typed in bold print. Five women are listed in the patriarchal genealogy of Jesus Christ, not because they represent the ‘skeletons in the closet’ in a pure Jewish genealogy but because their faith commends them.
- Tamar, who had been defrauded by her father-in-law, Judah, contended for what was due her. By her faith and righteousness, she obtained a double blessing, twins. The red thread tied upon the hand of Zerah by the midwife is a symbol of redemption.
- Rahab, who had heard of the works of the Lord and confessed that the He was God of heaven and earth, by faith received the two spies in peace. Her new found faith and righteousness saved her from annihilation in the doomed Jericho. The red cord dangled from her house not only spared her life, but is a symbol of redemption.
- Ruth, the Moabite, who had lost her Jewish husband, left her people and followed her mother-in-law who had decided to return to Israel. Ruth vowed to stay with her mother-in-law, to choose Israel as her people, and to choose their God as her God. Her faith and righteousness brought blessings for herself and her mother-in-law, which included marriage to Boaz. The barley harvest symbolizes the time of redemption, and Ruth asking Boaz to spread his garment was a request to the kinsmen-redeemer to cover her with his protection, redeem her, and marry her.
- “her of Urias”, also known as Bathsheba, sinned in an adulterous affair with King David. The sin of adultery could not be atoned by the Jewish sacrificial system, but only by a repentant heart having faith in the atonement of a future Messiah. “Purge me with hyssop”, a prayer from the penitent King David, symbolizes cleansing.
- Mary, because of her purity and faith in God, was chosen to be the young mother of the Lord Jesus Christ in such a miraculous way that is mind boggling. Her strong relationship with God would sustain her through the fateful events of her son. Her virginity is a symbol of spiritual purity.
What is Matthew trying to convey to his audience by mentioning these particular women? Could it be that we can only enter the Kingdom of God by our faith in Jesus Christ and that our redemption is through Him?
Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.